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Data Center Projects:

Commissioning

White Paper 148


Revision 1

by Paul Marcoux

Contents
> Executive summary Click on a section to jump to it

Introduction 2
Failure to properly commission a data center leaves the
door wide open for expensive and disruptive downtime Definition of commissioning 2
that could have been avoided. Integrated commission-
ing of all physical infrastructure components assures Outputs of commissioning 3
maximum data center performance and justifies the
physical infrastructure investment. This paper reviews Inputs to commissioning 6
the desired outputs and identifies the standard inputs How commissioning works 8
of the commissioning data center project step. The
commissioning process flow is described and critical Commissioning process 8
success factors are discussed. The commissioning
process inputs and outputs are also placed in context Tools 12
with other key data center project process phases and Organization 15
steps.
Conclusion 16

Resources 17

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Data Center Projects: Commissioning

Introduction When building a new data center, the owner of the data center has no guarantee that the
various physical infrastructure subsystems – power, cooling, fire suppression, security, and
management – will work together. Commissioning is the process that reviews and tests the
data center’s physical infrastructure design as a holistic system in order to assure the highest
level of reliability.

Traditional commissioning is a daunting task. Since formal system operation doesn’t begin
until the system is commissioned, the commissioning team experiences intense pressure to
complete the commissioning process quickly. Commissioning can involve high expense and
requires staffs from different departmental disciplines to work together. For these reasons
data center commissioning has almost uniquely been associated with large data centers
(over 20,000 ft2 or 1,858 m2). In the recent past, many data center managers chose to roll the
dice and perform little or no commissioning, relying only on start-up data to press ahead with
launching the new data center. Given the reality of 24x7 operations, however, the alternative
of exposure to major system failures and accompanying downtime is no longer an economi-
cally viable option. Commissioning has now become a business necessity.

Data center project phases

Prepare Design Acquire Implement


Figure 1
Data center design / build
project process

Commissioning
Step

Placed in the context of an entire data center design / build project, the commissioning step is
part of the implementation phase (see Figure 1). Within the implementation phase, commis-
sioning comes after the physical infrastructure systems have been delivered, assembled,
Related resource installed, and individually started up. Once commissioning is complete, formal orientation and
White Paper 140 training of data center staff can begin. For a complete overview of the data center design /
Data Center Projects: build project process, see White Paper 140, Data Center Projects: Standardized Process.
Standardized Process

Definition of Commissioning is defined as a reliability science that documents and validates the result of a
data center’s design / build process. The roots of commissioning can be traced to the many
commissioning independent equipment vendors who, over the last 10 years, provided “start-up” services
after having installed their particular data center system component. Each start-up process
was driven principally by contractual requirements that operated in a vacuum, independent of
other components. The general contractor hired various equipment vendors to supply and
install their products. These vendors were guided by a construction installation schedule.
When each vendor completed their particular product installation, they requested a certificate
of completion from the construction manager. The certificate served as proof that the
contracted systems were installed and made operational, and only then was the vendor’s
request for payment authorized. However, no contractual requirement existed for the
disparate products to perform in a fully integrated manner.

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Data Center Projects: Commissioning

The practice of commissioning an entire data center developed when standard equipment
start-up procedures consistently failed to identify system-wide weaknesses (see Figure 2). A
data center manager who avoids the time and expense of commissioning has no ability to
effectively judge the data center’s ability to handle the intended critical loads.

Integrated Commissioning

Security Management Cooling

Figure 2
Product focused start-up Physical Building
Fire Suppression Power
ignores the proper integration & Grounds
of key subsystems

Circuit Other
UPS Generator By- Pass
Breakers Systems

Component Start-up

Detailed commissioning is most often performed for medium and large “green field” (new)
data centers. Smaller data centers with mission critical applications can also improve overall
data center performance from proper commissioning, although cost may be a factor.

A supplemental resource for companies considering data center commissioning is ASHRAE


Guideline 0 – the Commissioning Process. This document provides an overview of commis-
Related resource sioning, description of each commissioning phase, requirements for acceptance of each
White Paper 149 phase, requirements for documentation of each phase, and requirements for training of
operation and maintenance personnel. For best practices information, consult White Paper
Ten Errors to Avoid When
Commissioning a Data Center 149, Ten Errors to Avoid When Commissioning a Data Center.

Outputs of The knowledge gained from the commissioning exercise should be documented. The
following three documents need to be produced if the commissioning process is to yield some
commissioning tangible benefits:

1. “As built” script report


2. Component error log report
3. Trending report

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Data Center Projects: Commissioning

“As built” script report


The “as built” script report highlights the specific system components tested, describes what
kinds of tests were performed, and provides a line by line account of how each component
either passed or failed the test. The “as built” script serves as an important reference
document when, in the future, failure analysis is performed. The example below outlines the
“as built” script report content:

1. Data center description


A. size in sq ft / sq meters
B. key physical infrastructure components
C. component redundancy levels
D. overall data center criticality level
2. Data center design criteria
Figure 3 A. Physical floor plan demonstrating physical infrastructure equipment locations (includes racks)
Sample “as built” script B. Floor plan denoting power distribution
report outline C. Floor plan denoting coolant, chiller and fire suppression piping
D. Floor plan with existing air flow patterns
3. Component verification
A. model specified (manufacturer, model name, model number, asset ID number)
B. model delivered (manufacturer, model name, model number, asset ID number)
C. model installed (manufacturer, model name, model number, asset ID number)
D. model capacity (kW, volts, amps)
E. general equipment condition
4. Performance data
A. test procedures
B. expected response
C. actual response
D. designation as pass or fail

Component error log report


The component error log, also known as Failure Mode Effects Analysis (FMEA), focuses on
the specific system components that failed the tests and documents how the failed test
impacted other components either upstream to or downstream of the component in question.
This report details the performance data results, highlighting errors that have occurred and
recommending solutions. Below is an example of the categories of information presented in a
component error log report.

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Table 1
Example of component error log report

Test area / procedure Impacted


Failure / reason for failure Corrective action
no. / and sequence ID system
Test area: power Failure: UPS failed to support load after
switching from by-pass mode to full function. Generator, Load Have chief electrician verify that all battery
Procedure: 21 Banks and battery leads are properly connected and rerun
Reason: Battery leads at the head of battery banks test.
Sequence: 12 string were disconnected

Test area: cooling Failure: Chilled water failed to circulate to


CRACS Chiller, CRAC, Have facilities engineer replace pump with
Procedure: 38
Reason: Pump located between condenser Condenser spare unit until new unit can be installed.
Sequence: 3 and CRAC failed to start

Test area: fire system Failure: Smoke detector A6 failed to raise Air distribution
Procedure: 42389 alarm when tested system, Sensor Contact vendor to replace smoke detection
aggregation point, unit
Sequence: 8 Reason: Faulty sensor near intake Smoke detection unit.

Commissioning is an ongoing process. Once all operational parameters have been verified
and all settings have been checked, the commissioning documentation serves as a bench-
mark for monitoring changes and trends in the data center.

Executive summary / trending report


Once actual commissioning is completed, a trending report is issued. This report includes a
management summary of identifiable system performance trends. The summary also
contains a high-level system description, highlights issues that were encountered and
resolved, and identifies issues that remain open for future action. The summary also includes
an action plan and a validation statement from the commissioning agent verifying that the
data center has fulfilled the company’s design expectations. This report synthesizes the data
gathered from both the “as built” script report and the component error log report. Below is an
example that outlines the content of a commissioning trending report:

Executive summary
1. Data center overview
2. Summary of pre-commissioning data (i.e. component start up data)
3. Summary of commissioning scope
Commissioning methodology overview
1. Procedures tested
2. Sequence of testing
Data center commissioning system performance trends
1. Includes data center physical infrastructure power input and heat output
2. Projected energy consumption report with both energy-use index (EUI) and energy-cost index
(ECI). The EUI is kW per air conditioned sq foot of the data center. The ECI is dollars per condi-
tioned square foot per year.
3. Analysis of error logs, with emphasis on root causes.
Conclusion
1. Possible impacts of future expansion

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Data Center Projects: Commissioning

The commissioning documents should be placed into the data center’s library of procedures
and practices (Figure 5). It is important that the acquired knowledge be documented in a
formal company system and NOT merely in the possession of one or two individuals who
might leave the company.

If the commissioning knowledge base is automated, then it can serve as a valuable training
tool for vendors and new staff members who are installing new pieces of equipment. IT help
desk and on-site facilities departments can also use the commissioning data for training.
More advanced training can include a requirement that staff be knowledgeable in commis-
sioning test results. In fact, the ability to run commissioning tests could be used as criteria for
attaining internal technological performance certification levels.

Trending
Report

Knowledge
Figure 5
Commissioning “As Built”
Commissioning outputs Step Script
should be fully leveraged

Base
Component
Error Log

Typical utilization of commissioning data includes the following:

• Comparison of future performance against known day-one performance (trending)


• Training of site staff (i.e. video tape recordings of critical procedures that will need to be
performed in the future)
• Clarification of root causes of future failures (forensic analysis)
• Verification of warranty claims, performance assurance claims, and for other insurance
purposes
• Support data for risk assessment analysis
• Benchmark data to evaluate overall system performance
• Identification of system components that need to be either redesigned or retuned
• Prediction of expected results from system events

The commissioning knowledge base should also be used by senior management to estimate
the future usability and life expectancy of the data center.

Inputs to Commissioning is initiated as a result of several related processes that are executed in
advance. These key inputs include the following:
commissioning
1. Data center site preparation and installation work
2. Component start up data
3. Data center design parameters

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Data center site preparation and installation work


Site coordination assures that installation prerequisites have been identified, verifies that all
system requirements have been met, reviews electrical and cooling installation requirements
with appropriate subcontractors, and verifies the floor layout design. This is followed by
actual installation of the physical infrastructure equipment components.

Component start up data


Both data center staff and equipment vendors are responsible for the task of starting up
individual system components. Once a piece of equipment, like a UPS for example, is
delivered and installed, the next logical step is to perform the start up. Start up generally
consists of powering up the system to make sure that the new equipment component is
working properly. The results of these various start up tests need to be made available to the
commissioning team prior to the initiation of the commissioning process. The team must then
decide how much commissioning will be required to provide a sufficient integrated test (see
Table 2).
Table 2
Sample commissioning scope checklist

Infrastructure
Fire suppression and
Power tests Cooling tests monitoring systems
security tests
and controls tests
__ System grounding __ Chillers __ Pipes __ Power monitoring system
__ Generator __ Chilled water pumps __ Sprinkler system __ CRAC monitoring system
__ UPS __ Cooling tower __ Gauges __ Humidity sensors
__ ATS __ Condenser water pumps __ Pumps __ Motion detection sensors
__ Integrated power system __ Piping __ Automatic alarms __ Temperature sensors
__EPO __ Heat exchanger __ Smoke detection __ Building management system
__ CRAC __ Electronics
__ Ducting / air flow __ Man trap
__ Integrated cooling system __ Door lock system
__ Security camera

Data center design parameters


In a traditional data center design, the data center designer takes the operational assump-
tions (i.e. 5,000 foot, tier II with 10% annual growth), and then custom designs the data
center physical infrastructure using custom components. The designer consults colleagues to
verify accuracy and to make redesign corrections, and then issues final designs. The design
process includes estimations, custom parts, and redesigns – all of which invite multiple errors
by increasing complexity. This traditional approach, with all the high risk and high costs it
introduces, discourages many data center managers from investing additional dollars to
properly commission the data center.

Modern data center design takes a different approach. A detailed analysis involving power
density, criticality levels (comparable in part to data center “tier” levels), power and cooling
capacity planning, and data center growth plans sets the stage for establishing the design.

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These design parameters are ultimately expressed in the format of a floor plan. The floor plan
allows for the commissioning team to formulate a strategy for scripting and testing the
integrated system components (see Figure 10).

Fortunately, recent innovations in physical infrastructure technology – such as scalable,


modular power and cooling components – have helped to introduce standardized compo-
nents into the design process. Standardization of both products and processes creates wide-
ranging benefits in physical infrastructure that streamline and simplify every process from
initial planning to daily operations. For more information on the availability, agility, and TCO
Related resource
benefits of physical infrastructure standardization, see White Paper 116, Standardization and
White Paper 116
Modularity in Data Center Physical Infrastructure. With standard system components in place,
Standardization and commissioning becomes a less daunting, more affordable, and higher-value task that can be
Modularity in Data Center
employed in both small and large data centers.
Physical Infrastructure
Project Process Inputs

Start Up
Data

Figure 6 Design
Parameters
Commissioning
Both internal and external Step
resources provide inputs to
commissioning
Site
Preparation

How Commissioning helps to compare actual system performance to the performance assumed by
designers as they architected the data center. The essence of commissioning is “reliability
commissioning insurance.” The main purpose of traditional insurance is to lower the liability should an
works incident occur in a home or business. Commissioning lowers the risk of failures in the data
center by making sure, ahead of time, that the system works as an integrated whole. It also
can demonstrate how the equipment and systems perform during failure scenarios.

To determine the value of commissioning, data center managers need to take into account
whether the cost of downtime is greater than the cost of the commissioning process. Accord-
ing to Einhorn Yaffee Prescott (EYP), a global consulting engineering firm, a good rule of
thumb is to invest 2% of the overall data center project cost on commissioning. In most
cases, data center owners will see a 5-10% ROI benefit in terms of overall data center
performance as a result of commissioning. 1

Commissioning Key commissioning processes include the following:

process 1. Planning
2. Investment
3. Selection of a commissioning agent

1
Einhorn Yafee Prescott, Data Center World, Everything You Need to Know About Commissioning,
March 2006

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4. Scripting
5. Setting up of a command center
6. Testing
7. Documenting

Planning
The commissioning process begins months ahead of the actual delivery of the physical
infrastructure equipment. Regular commissioning meetings should be held several weeks
ahead of the actual commissioning date. Vendors of the various component subsystems
should provide start-up documentation as part of the planning process. At these planning
meetings, primary and secondary stakeholders are kept informed of how the commissioning
schedule will be organized. Plans can be formulated at these meetings to set up event
sequencing and to coordinate schedules. The responsibilities of the team members who are
engaged in the process should be clearly defined in the planning stages.

Commissioning strives to identify and eliminate as many single points of failure (SPOF) as
possible. The new facility, or “green field” facility, makes it easier to control all the moving
parts of the total data center environment. In a green field data center all engineering and
operational assumption data is fresh and obtainable. In addition, needs and constraints are
understood and key personnel are accessible. For instance, a need would be for the facility
to have 5 minutes of battery back-up time while a constraint would be that generators should
not run for more than 30 minutes.

An existing or “brown field” facility presents more limitations than a green field facility. In a
brown field data center, original commissioning documentation may only consist of compo-
nent start-up information. The original engineer of record may not be available. Landlords or
lease agreements may have changed. The general contractor’s records may be partial or
unavailable. Subcontractor and vendor documentation may be outdated and possibly faulty or
unavailable. Internal management and / or original stakeholders may have changed. The
company may have been involved in a merger or acquisition scenario. Simply stated, it is
unrealistic to have the same expectations for an existing data center commissioning project
as for a green field project. These complicated commissioning scenarios should serve to
reinforce the importance of automating, up front, the documentation development, storage,
and retrieval processes.

Four years is the average refresh time for a green field data center to experience a major
upgrade project. Therefore, it is important to implement commissioning best practices at the
outset. If the existing data center history has been properly documented, it can serve as
base-line data for the new data center. In addition, all tracking records can serve as input to
the new design. Former project cost documentation of the existing data center can also be
revised for accurate budgeting of the new data center, and existing and new equipment
reliability can be accurately predicted. The entire past commissioning investment can be
leveraged for the new design / build project.

Investment
Determining how much commissioning should be performed depends on the business
expectation of cost and need. The more thorough the past commissioning process, the faster
and less costly future commissioning projects will be. Commissioning comes back to playing
the role of an insurance policy for data center reliability. With life insurance, for example, the
older the individual the more he or she will pay for a certain level of insurance. The “right”
amount to invest is directly proportional to how old the data center is. To fully commission a

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ten year old data center is possible. However it may be more cost effective to consider a
complete replacement of the existing data center.

Selection of a commissioning agent


Many different viewpoints and influences impact the ultimate selection of the commissioning
agent. When engaging a commissioning agent in medium to large organizations, a recom-
mended best practice is to assure that the commissioning agent is independent. This practice
is driven by an organization’s desire to enhance its corporate image by leveraging indepen-
dent validations.

Finance departments embrace a similar approach regarding the independence of outside


auditors. Most companies subscribe to generally accepted accounting principles (GAAP).
GAAP requires the engagement of an independent audit agency to validate all public financial
data. The audit agent is not permitted to maintain any secondary relationships that could
compromise the independent review. Most companies’ internal audit requirements mandate
that the commissioning agent conform to the same rigid practices that are imposed on the
finance department. The reasoning behind this practice is that validation statements derived
from the data center commissioning process are used in risk assessment by investors and
that these commissioning documents may become public record.

If a company or owner chooses not to engage an independent commissioning agent, the


design engineer or the construction company can usually perform the commissioning
process. Regardless of whether an external or associated commissioning agent is selected,
validation of the agent’s past experience in delivering a fully integrated commissioning
process is recommended.

Once the contractor team has been selected by the owner, the commissioning agent should
get involved early in the project process. Early engagement provides the cleanest, least
filtered information and enhances the ability of the team to identify potential single points of
failure (SPOF). Involving a commissioning agent early on also reduces the possibility of
having the commissioning process fall victim to budget cuts, should the project experience
cost overruns.

Scripting
Prior to the integrated testing of equipment, a comprehensive test script must be created.
Scripting is important because it provides a time-sequenced and order-based roadmap for
testing all key data center elements. The script also captures a record of all the test results.
By following the script, the commissioning team can observe and validate how each physical
infrastructure component influences the operation of linked components.

The scripting is usually performed by the independent commissioning organization. If a


company or owner chooses not to engage an independent commissioning agent, then the
design engineer or the construction company can perform the scripting process. The master
script is developed over the entire length of the construction process and refined for each
physical infrastructure element.

Scripting must first validate that all subsystems are tested using the manufacturer’s start-up
process. Vendors of the various component subsystems should provide start-up documenta-
tion and have it added to the script well in advance of the commissioning dates. Regular
scripting meetings should be held prior to the actual commissioning date. At these meetings,
the general scripting progress is reviewed and revised for each physical infrastructure
subsystem. When all the independent subsystems have been scripted, they are incorporated
into a cohesive system script.

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Once the various start-ups are validated and the assorted scripting documents are in order,
the integrated testing process can begin.

Setting up of a command center


Depending upon the complexity and size of the integrated commissioning test, a command
center may be required. Smaller data centers may simply designate an individual who can act
as the command center – a communication “hub” – during the testing process. The purpose
of the command center is to coordinate various testing activities, to give next step testing
permission, to handle all internal and external communication, and to have all contact and
emergency phone numbers available.

It is vitally important that the individuals actually performing the commissioning task not be
overburdened with external communication and documentation details; this is the command
center’s responsibility. The testing group needs to focus on safety and testing.

Figure 7 is an example of a typical communication between command center personnel and


the commissioning agent. This example emphasizes the importance of the time sequencing
of events and the level of precision required during the commissioning process.

“Commissioning Agent (CA) to Command Center (CC): do I have permission to open CB #102,
Script Test line EE15, Time 01:05?”

Figure 7 “CC to CA: Please hold until I verify with IT Help Desk and Engineering, Time 01:15”

Typical command center “CC to CA: I have verified, permission is granted; Time 01:34”
communication example
“CA to CC: CB # 102 is OPEN and Lock Out / Tagged Out engaged, Time 01:40”

“CA to CC: do I have permission to proceed to Script Test line EE 16, Time 01:45?”

“CC to CA: Yes, proceed to Script Test line EE 16, Time 01:47”

Note that the time stamp on each command center communication can be used to help refine
the execution of the task in the future. The command center process ensures that the script is
followed and that shortcuts are not taken which could lead to latent defects and subsequent
downtime.

The element of human fatigue must also be considered. In a perfect world, everyone in the
commissioning process would be well rested and alert, but this is not always the case. The
command center must ensure that only well rested individuals are included on the commis-
sioning team. If not, the possibility for human error grows dramatically. Several approaches
can help limit the fatigue factor of the employees:

• Consider scheduling the commissioning test phases during the day as opposed to late
at night.
• Monitor the number of hours that staff members are involved in testing so that work
shifts can be appropriately rotated.
• Avoid having staff members work on weekends, particularly if they have been involved
in testing for several intense days in a row.

Testing

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Every piece of equipment should be tested by executing a sequenced failure followed by a


restart and return-to-stable operation. A sequenced failure implies that a failure in one
component (such as a generator) is communicated to a second related component (such as
the air conditioning system) so that the second component can act in an appropriate manner
to minimize downtime or to be ready for action when power is restored. This testing cycle
should be performed on each component and also on the entire integrated system. This will
involve a complete power down and an automatic restart.

Power: This aspect of the commissioning process tests the high voltage electrical service
entrance. It then progresses forward to the medium voltage main power distribution system,
including parallel switchgear, transfer switches, emergency generator, UPS system, the data
center monitoring system, and the distribution down to the racks. All lighting and life safety
systems including emergency power off systems (EPO) are also tested. Finally, electrical
system commissioning should include a short-circuit and breaker coordination study using
electrical scripting to verify that all circuit breaker and ground fault trip settings are correct.

Cooling: The cooling components include the cooling towers (including incoming water
sources), chillers, piping, pumps, variable speed drives, chemical or other water treatment
systems, and filtration systems. It also includes building humidification, ventilation, heating
systems, and computer room air conditioners (CRACs).

Fire suppression: This begins with an analysis of the incoming water and post indicator
valves (PIVs), works through the alarm systems and automated reporting systems, and ends
with the sprinkler and or clean agent (gas) fire suppression systems.

Monitoring and management systems: Commissioning of the building management and


energy management monitoring and control systems is incorporated with each primary
system test. Each alarm should be verified.

Physical security systems: The central security station site video monitoring, physical
security devices such as mantraps and card readers, and central sound system are also
tested during commissioning. All wall duct penetrations should be double checked to
determine whether security bars have been installed. These security bars can prevent an
intruder who has gained access to the roof, for example, from entering the data center by
climbing down a large air duct.

Spare parts: If deploying some of the newer, modular / scalable UPSs or similar equipment,
spare parts, such as backup power modules, should also be included as part of the commis-
sioning process. For example, the original power module should be included in the first test.
Then that module should be pulled out and replaced with the spare module. The test should
be run again to verify that both the original and spare modules work correctly. The spare
module should then be properly stored (i.e. wrapped in a dust resistant plastic package) in a
secure environment until it is ready to be deployed as a replacement part.

Tools Commissioning tests the “sequence of operation” of all systems working together, and tests
and documents the limits of performance. During commissioning, automatic failure and
recovery modes are also tested and documented to assure that redundancies work.

Although physical infrastructure equipment is installed prior to commissioning, data centers


are not often fully loaded with IT equipment during commissioning (see Figure 8). Therefore,
a sufficient heat load may not exist for system testing. In this case, load banks can be used to
introduce heat loads and to allow for simultaneous testing of both electrical and cooling
systems.

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Figure 8
Large load banks simulate
computer load

Commissioning for high density


The traditional approach of utilizing load banks to simulate the data center’s electrical load is
both costly and insufficient for commissioning a data center in an integrated fashion. Tradi-
tional methods emphasize power conditioning systems. Mechanical systems, such as
CRACS, are not tested to the same extent. The challenge with traditional load banks has
been the difficultly in producing a heat load sufficient to simulate and test the operating limits
of the CRAC systems.

Now that blade server technology is being introduced to many data centers, managing heat
has become even more important. Blade servers can generate a load of 24 kW or more per
rack.

Until now, no commissioning methodology has permitted the testing of power and cooling
systems simultaneously. No methodology has allowed for the creation of an environment that
could accurately test the level of power and cooling needed to support a true high density
data center. American Power Conversion Schneider Electric has developed an approach that
allows end-to-end reliability testing to be performed easily and safely. Using a “server
simulator” that installs in a standard IT cabinet or rack, the methodology duplicates IT loading
both in terms of electrical load, heat and air flows (see Figure 9).

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Figure 9
Rack-mounted server
simulator has adjustable heat
and air flow settings

The Schneider Electric temporary independent resistive heaters can be installed in the data
center racks as artificial server loads. These heaters have selectable load and airflow ranges
that can be set to match the electrical server load and airflow designed for each rack. These
heaters can be directly plugged into the same electrical distribution system installed to supply
the servers; hence all distribution is also commissioned. The cooling, electrical and monitor-
ing systems must be ready to run when the load banks arrive and when the functional tests
are set to be run.

Temporary independent rack heaters test the following:

• Power distribution installation


• Hot / cold aisle air flow
• Rack hot air flow patterns
• Rack mount outlets in the racks
• PDUs serving the racks
• Management for the entire physical infrastructure system (including racks)

They are also useful in verifying the following:

• Actual rack cooling requirement


• Automatic shutdown parameters by verifying UPS and run to failure modes
• Computer room air conditioner (CRAC) system operations
• CRAC cooling fluid system

Scripting checklists
A second valuable tool utilized in the commissioning process is the scripting outline. In most
cases the commissioning agent will use a standard master script outline that is modified
based upon the system components in the particular installation. During actual testing, the
script should be a hand-held paper or electronic document containing a test procedure
articulating the projected outcome of each event. It should also contain check off boxes for
each test with space for comments and test results (see Figure 10). Each person associated
with the test should have an identical copy of the test script. The scripting documentation, if

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properly designed and assembled, is a powerful tool for the IT staff to utilize in order to
proactively prevent future system failures.

Line number Check off box Description Results Proceed? Initials

132 Basic operational tests – manual transfers n/a Yes ______

133 (carry out the following functional tests) n/a Yes ______

134a ATS racked in “CONNECTED” position pass Yes ______


Figure 10
Abbreviated example 134b ATS not bypassed pass Yes ______
of closed-transition 134c Closed-transition transfer capability disabled pass Yes ______
transfer switch test
script 135 Test steps n/a Yes ______

136a Verify that above conditions are satisfied pass Yes ______

137b Move ATS to “TEST” position fail No ______


137c ____ Bypass ATS to Normal source
137d ____ Move ATS to “TEST” position
137e ____ Move ATS to “DISCONNECTED” position

Organization In addition to testing and command center teams, it is important that key stakeholders are
present when the commissioning takes place. If key team members can witness failures, they
can provide more constructive feedback during remediation and retesting. The commission-
ing teams should consist of the following:

• Owner team (which can include representatives from the IT department, from facilities,
from operations, and from key business units)
• Design team (which may include an architect / engineer from the outside, an interior
designer, and any specialized consultants)
• Contractor team (which will include the contractor, the outside project manager, the
inside program manager, and any significant subcontractors)
• Supplier / vendor team (independent product representatives)
• Independent commissioning agent

These stakeholders need to work in a coordinated fashion in order for the commissioning
exercise to be successful. The commissioning agent leads the process and the owner and
vendor teams typically perform the testing. Documentation is the responsibility of both the
commissioning agent and the owner teams. The design and contractor teams are involved
much earlier in the process, by providing inputs to the commissioning script and scheduling
dates.

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Data Center Projects: Commissioning

Conclusion The data center physical infrastructure commissioning process can be compared to an
insurance program. Like insurance, the owner must weigh the cost of commissioning to the
risk of a potential loss. It is the principal stakeholder’s responsibility to ensure that the initial
benefits of integrated commissioning do not degrade over time. Similar to insurance, the
commissioning agent should be contacted periodically or at major business events to provide
a review of the integrated system’s current integrity. This review is required because risk and
reliability will change over time as business needs change.

Integrated commissioning produces volumes of well documented test results, procedures,


and processes. The output of commissioning is the physical infrastructure knowledge base of
your company. If kept current, commissioning documentation is invaluable in providing
physical infrastructure refresher education and new hire training. If the information is elec-
tronic and automated, it can be used as valuable design input to future data center projects.
Companies like Schneider Electric can provide commissioning support services if required.

Acknowledgements
Special thanks to Paul Marcoux for authoring the original content of this white paper.

Schneider Electric – Data Center Science Center White Paper 148 Rev 1 16
Data Center Projects: Commissioning

Resources
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Data Center Projects: Standardized Process


White Paper 140

Browse all Ten Errors to Avoid When Commissioning


white papers a Data Center
whitepapers.apc.com
White Paper 149

Standardization and Modularity in Data Center


Physical Infrastructure
White Paper 116

Browse all
TradeOff Tools™
tools.apc.com

Contact us
For feedback and comments about the content of this white paper:

Data Center Science Center


DCSC@Schneider-Electric.com

If you are a customer and have questions specific to your data center project:

Contact your Schneider Electric representative

Schneider Electric – Data Center Science Center White Paper 148 Rev 1 17